Wednesday, 17 September 2014

METRO SCHOOL REUNION FOREVER!

(Post written by Fred Savage Beasts)

Adelaide - home of the severely underrated genius. Right where Australia balances between the currents from the Antarctic and the wide, brown desert. Wide streets, trams, Jamie Siddons, Crows and now this… The Metro School Reunion. This is the reason you’ve been looking for to take your beat up VK Holden on its final legendary drive.

Get a load of the bands on the list, dammit! TV Colours alone would make this worthwhile. Like the Crows say, “FAAARK…” All these bands should be in the test team.

TV COLOURS★CONSTANT MONGREL★HIT THE JACKPOT★NATIVE CATS★LAKES★SCHOOL OF RADIANT LIVING ★BITCH PREFECT★PEAK TWINS★OLD MATE★RULE OF THIRDS★WIREHEADS 

On at the city's stalwart Hotel Metropolitan on October 5. Wind down the windows, rubber band your teas towels round your frozen water bottles and get yourself there. Any way you can.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Scrabbled Sewers Are Virtually Cool


Virtual Cool is a new label out of Brisbane that, whilst staying predominantly cassette based, should really reach a lot of people. Why? Because they are intent on putting out records that would otherwise languish in the tinnitus and vagrant memories of hazy booze and drug fuelled nights, a jigsaw puzzle of a sound never to be fully remembered or repeated. The first two releases are cases in point.


An unheralded amalgam of some of Brisbane's best fringe dwellers (members of Dag, Clag, Gravel Samwidge, Extrafoxx and X Wave litter their numbers, among others), Scrabbled's Welcome To Pig City is revving on narcoleptic fumes of disdain at the state of affairs in the Sunshine State and desperation. Everything is slanted and disenchanted - a dissertation to punk politicism in Can-Do Campbell Newman's backwards-leaning regime. Queensland has always had a hard run of it when it comes to forward-leaning politics, hence why the world recognises Brisbane for its punk music of the late 70s and early 80s than any other genre and era. But Scrabbled aren't interested in tapping into old vibes or digging at old scabs - no, these wounds are fresh. The music itself is loose, warped, awkward, defiantly out of step. This isn't a detriment though - Scrabbled have a voice and energy all their own; a purging of pent-up exasperation spilling into abject aggression. You need bands like this - you really do. Get angry and have some fun.







The other release is something altogether different - diseased and snarling, more malevolent, and much less serious. Sewers and Rat King split the shit right down the middle on Leather. The Brisbane contingent stomp the fuck out of any nuance anyone thought they might have had on new cut 'Chinese Tommy', a short shotgun blast to the gut. Their dirge-drivel take on Grong Grong's 'Japanese Train Driver' sounds like the best Sewers song they never wrote - the irascible energy is finally unleashed in a more rampant speed, and the whole thing falls apart in a rust-hollowed heap. Brilliant. Newcastle's Rat King don't offer the yin to Sewer's yang though - 'Sick Pills' and 'Browood' somehow slow things down with embalmer treacle yet up the ante with their seething vitriol. The feedback on the former track is still ear-splitting even in recording, a harsh reminder that the imperfections are deliberated, serrated and antagonistic; whilst 'Browood' is a pitch-dark march into the nether regions of listlessness leading to evil transgressions. Hanging out with these clowns will get you killed - if they don't kill you first.




You can get both of these here. There is more to come from Virtual Cool, including a release from Bent, so you will be hearing more from me too.

TOXIC REFLEXIVE PITY SEX SPLIT

(Post by Fred Savage Beasts)

What do you need? A to the red fuzzy pop song with unapologetically honest lyrics? Alcohol and aspirin? Love? Well, now you can have all three at once – which, for my liking is probably the best way to have these things. And while you’re at it, and with whoever you’re at it with, dig down for the harmonies in this new Pity Sex track and you’ll come up with a comfort of sorts.


Get ‘Acid Reflex’ here (out on a split 7” with Adventure through Run For Cover Records).

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Weird Ovaries In The Rain


Man, I love me a straight up moniker. And whilst Lux Ovarye's Weird Time isn't exactly an easy mouthful, it sure is a weird time. Playing out like a paisley Thee Oh Sees offcut with Ariel Pink taking the reins whilst asking all and sundry where he can score some MDMA, 'In The Rain' is a beautiful jangle with a soaring melody that nevertheless feels sketchy, flaky, borderline psychotic. But the band keep it together, enough where you drop your guard and start to really enjoy yourself. Then you open yourself to it properly, and the rain spears into your being - it's like being out of yourself on the side of a highway that you have no reason to be on, with someone who you DEFINITELY shouldn't be with, yet knowing that the walls are coming down... Spinning around, arms outstretched as the sun rises over the industrial complexes... Not really knowing where you are, and not caring. That's what 'In The Rain' does to you, be it real or imagined. And that makes it a dangerously good song.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Smashing Raindeer With Quasi Rock And/Or Roll


Here is a little brainworm. Raindeer out of Baltimore (obviously) have taken the creative mushrooms that must grow all over that city and followed it with a blazed pill of Animal Collective energy. it's a weird one because effectively 'This Is Rock N' Roll' is a straight up song, not much in way of structure that can proclaim it as doing anything innate "different". But it is the hypercolour kaleidoscopic layers that are infused here. The high pitched vocals, the glockenspiel pings, the wormholes that dive from Alice In Wonderland-style cutesiness to a Speed Racer-style mind melt of candy-covered sounds, with a bass line that underpins it all, blasting out with an almost aggressive thrust. It ends suddenly after two and three quarter minutes, spitting you back out into your mono-coloured world, bemused, bewildered, and besmirched - what was that? how can you subject me to such sugar rushes without my consent? - before you blink and there you are again, in line, buying another ticket. This ISN'T rock and roll, but it sure is addictive, whatever it is.



Raindeer have an impending album, You Look Smashing. They seem like the polite, self-deprecating types. They also seem like the treacly Woodland Creatures from South Park who turn out to be cannibals. Let's see where this heads...

Friday, 12 September 2014

Daughters Of The Legendary Hearts


A failure to communicate saw my final two Not Not Fun write-ups for last week fail to materialise - that and some awful work-related meltdowns and the lack of Internet-inal attachment. So here they are, jammed into the one...


What I love about Ride To Die, Minneapolis band Daughters of the Sun's fourth album, is how it simultaneously feels like an extraneous entry to the Not Not Fun roster and yet an indelibly intrinsic totem. The trio are effectively a kraut-psych wet dream, filtered through the VHS gloss of early 80s Viacom cyber-sci-fi genre hybrid films. And it's this later part that comes to pass on tracks such as 'Fly By', a lysergic trance mantra that besmirches the more gargantuan psych numbers that bookend it. Don't get me wrong, the psych numbers are what get me humming here - yet even the titular 'Ride To Die', a blasted hallucinogenic bomb with its phasers set to kill, starts with warbled tetravision synth. Meanwhile 'Sater's Ghost' feels like stepping into a Kraftwerk bad dream, marionetting around a circular black hole, the strings manned by Gary Numan.  And the flayed sworl of 'Reigns Of Iron' mirrors the Robedoor black drift spirit, yet with more metallurgic pulse. But it's the inexorable pull to the damned unknown that really hooks you in, and the majority of that power must go to Collin Gorman Weiland's synth wasteland. Check out his and percussionist Bennett Johnson's Dreamweapon too while you are at it. Grab Ride To Die here - it's killer.



And it's nice to end Not Not Fun week with something Australian too. Melbourne duo Legendary Hearts have just released Aerial Views, and it's a swirling hyperventilation under an cloud of opium dreams. The vapours drift effortlessly, whether it be the nebulous guitar lines on 'Vanishing Point', the waveforms that drift over the pastel sunset tones of a romantic comedown that is 'Distance & Desire' or the warped amalgamation of 80s backlit ballads and being caught in a lava lamp that percolates throughout 'Acceleration'. These narcotic inducing songs all pulse with an energy and drive that is often missing from music of this ilk: it's fun yet purposeful; sensuous yet playful. With a dash of sadism in there for that exotic taste of the wild side. Aerial Views is in fact a very sexual record in that regard, and is probably soundtracking the entire spectrum of the Kinsey scale as we speak. Grab it here.


Duskdarting


I don't know about you, but my week has been a bit of a stress A-bomb. Cutting down on the beer on the weekend (involuntarily) and the lack of seeing regular live shows (again, out of my control) hasn't helped things. But there has been some shining lights stabbing my mind-s eye from the dark - the arrival of a new bed and finally connecting to the Internet (I know - domasturbation, right?); writing my first piece for The Quietus; starting my first commissioned column (here's hoping this becomes some kind of semi-regular gig); the test pressing for the latest Sonic Masala release (although unlikely to be the next one out of the stable - more on that later); and some news about the next few Sonic Masala releases that are likely to keep me occupied until the New Year. So, most of these things don't bring in money - in fact they added cash to the black void of negative funds that has been my life of recent months - but who gives a shit. I have Duskdarter to console me.


Duskdarter is an eclectic label out of Brisbane that specialises in the more ambient and otherworldly outreaches of sound. Two of their latest releases have occupied my warped, tired brain over the past couple of months, and both include artists who have been involved in Sonic Masala shows over the years. The first release is Monkey-Flower-Shell, a suite of suitably chilled acoustic guitar jams from Kahl Monticone. None of the eleven "songs" breach the two minute mark, a refreshing notion when most instrumental meanderings, well, meander. These songs are soporific moments in a fragmented time - languorous sojourns into a tiki bar of the somnambulist. The electronic aspects that seep into these songs help shift the sands of focus to a degree where it's hard to know whether you are happy, sad, awake or asleep. It's a cryogenic muzak, lulling you through the null-years until it's time to come into a new world. Perfect for the permanent chill.



Then there is the livewire stylings of Adam Cadell and Tony Irving. I saw these two perform one of (if not the very) first shows when they supported Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing November last year, and their loose experimental, experiential jams were raucous yet tempered - and electrifying. Both are incredibly skilled musicians of the highest order, having trained and played with some elite folks. But it's the innate ability to free-form into the darkest recesses of the sonic ether that is truly mesmerising. Some Shards For The Void sounds as rooted in strength in confidence and ability as it sounds insoluble, irascible, anarchic. Cadell's violin takes precedence here, creating a maelstrom of inner-ear turmoil, a skittish membrane one moment, a archaic rusted nail through the brain the next. It's cerebral nightmares and cathartic dreamscapes, with Irving a muttering fulcrum that manages to propel as it anchors.


You can get both in digital form (and Monkey-Flower-Shell in CDr form) here.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Chroming The Young


I am a massive fan of Austin reprobates The Young’s Voyagers Of Legend LP, which tore my face off in 2010 (it was one of our top albums of that year). That album was surprisingly on Mexican Summer - not a label that keeps tabs on this kind of viscerality - and was also their last one on there. Then my knowledge of their existence pretty much stopped right there. The quartet apparently brought out a follow-up album called Dub Egg, which I somehow missed. I'm scurrying around looking for it now...

But onward and upward. The Texans have a new album on Matador Records, and it's a balltearer. Chrome Cactus is sharper; harsher; leaner; sinister. There is a dropped-down drive that underscores this songs, which are then superseded by fuzzed out guitar solos a la Fu Manchu’s Scott Hill albeit with some deliberate restraint, and other abrasive effects like the squalling feedback stab on ‘Metal Flake’ or the the soaring synth that accompanies the “ballad” ‘Apache Throat’. The excellently-named Hans Zimmerman takes front and centre with his vocals this time around, and it lends an interesting counterpoint that is often overlooked in 21st century rock production – his voice is uninhibited by pedals, effects and nonsense distortion and delay, and as such stands somewhere between the monotone snarl of Girls Against Boys’ Eli Janney and the growl of Young Widows’ Evan Patterson. It helps the the sound has been tweaked by Tim Green (Nation of Ulysses/The Fucking Champs) in the blasted surrounds of the Sierra Nevada – definitely perfect environs for what transpires here - but you get a sense that Chrome Cactus may have landed at his feet fully formed. ‘Chrome Jamb’ has a narcoleptic undertone to its dry crawl, bent strings belying a Morricone hangover before bringing the doom; ‘Moondog First Quarter’ maintains the vitriol that has been missing from Black Mountain for some time. I still miss the darkness sewn into the Pixies-lite that littered their debut, but when the raucous drown-out that is the aptly-titled ‘Slow Death’ kicks in, closely followed by the feedback squall of closer ‘Blow The Scum Away’, the new Young is all that matters.


You can grab Chrome Cactus here. The Young play in NY tonight alongside SM faves Degreaser - get along.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Sydney's Local Fathers, Sons, Legends

Mikey and Jack from Sydney band Beef Jerk started their own label recently. Called Local Legends Records (great name), the impetus was on getting out some of the weirder DIY recordings of local Sydney musicians that mightn’t otherwise reach your ears. It’s all pretty rough and ready, but therein lies the charm, and there are some real gems to unearth here. Essentially a cassette release label (in Jack’s words, “we are starting out on cassettes because I found hundreds for pretty much nothing in a shop in Lewisham”). This is true DIY too – the duo dub each cassette themselves before printing the jackets at Petersham Officeworks (probably some legends right there too) then finish off by writing the labels too. As would be expected, one of the first releases features none other than rumpled rascal Nathan Roche, under the moniker The Revisionists. Keeping with the proud Sydney geographic touchstones, the cassette is called Potts The Point, and is touted as the “shortest lived punk group”. It's got some corkers - 'I Don't Need Ya' should be my theme tune.



But it is all of extreme interest as a sort of stream-of-consciousness underbelly archive – a aural microfiche of cast-offs and lightning-in-a-bottle moments of epiphany, never to be repeated. There is the Bad Guys single which sees Randall Lee (of Ashtray Boy and Cannanes fame, and Jack’s uncle) writing music to accompany lyrics inspired by his three year old son, producing raucous inter-generational blasts; there’s Luke O’Farrell (The Laurels) with a bunch of demos highlighting the gestation of that band in his mind; there’s the wild detritus of Wild Cat Falling; there's the jangle-drown of Encrypted Hard Drive; and there's the supposed release of Lincoln Brown (Housewives) going solo and getting all debaucherous in the process, apparently reaching for the Jandek bottle of reclusive blues ennui wisdom followed by a chaser of Axemen untuned angst...I want this to come through guys.






Get it all here - there are some burnt classics here that need serious attention...Oh, and happy Father's Day!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Magic Eye Of Babylon


Another day, another narcoleptic synapse burner from the Not Not Fun stable. This one is from Edinburgh cryo-pop trio Magic Eye. Babylon is a breezy-yet-blazed pop odyssey, the slightly murky production and otherworldly vocals/samples evoking a time capsule quality; long forgotten scores to long abandoned 80s VHS also-rans. This album helped save me today though. I'm currently looking for a “day job” – having lots of time on my hands has been great, but no money is fun only up to a point – and today has been a particularly obstacle-strewn calamity. The broken-yet-decadent dreams of Babylon though has a soothing quality to it; a nebulous embolism of yearning emotions that proffers familiarity and therein a modicum of sonorous hope, especially the penultimate title track, its multitudinous sounds of voice and submerged guitar lines soaring and intertwining into a uplifting crescendo.


You can get Babylon here.

Friday, 5 September 2014

The Age Old Perception Has Been Coined Once More


I have been meaning to do the fourth instalment of my drone explorations for months now, but to no avail. The thing is it takes so much time and effort to do those posts – hence why there haven’t been that many Hits From The Box segments either. I do love Everybody’s Droning On The Weekend though, so instead I thought I might unearth a few that I have been digging of late, just to show you drone acolytes that I still like delving into the greyzone.


Today I want to mention Perceptions, the debut release from Danes Simon Formann & Kristian Emdal (from Lower), here known as Age Coin. My favourite part about this release is that the white noise that is rolling back and forth in the first half of ‘Pt 1’ is undercut with a beat that becomes trancelike in itself – a deliberate hook that inexorably draws you closer to the abyss. ‘Pt 2’ winds this escalator grind to hell even further towards oblivion, but there is an undercurrent of a dancefloor underworld here – it’s as if Formann & Emdal surreptitiously want the listener to shuffle in time, a zombie flash mob of narcoleptic movement, the slow undulation of flesh controlled. It’s this sense of melody underneath the white noise and innocuous beats that is both the light and dark of Perceptions – at one moment an exultant exercise in zonal euphoria, at the next the exit music as the last beat pulses from your bloodstream.


You should get Perceptions from Alterstock here.

Pagan Spells From Sisilisko


I have no idea how I “discovered” Sweden’s Sisilisko. It’s like one of those creepy short stories or vignettes – you know, how something just appears at the doorstep, or the letterbox, or in this case on the desktop of my laptop. The album Waldeinsamkeit is like a Tom Waits-led spiral into the inexorable mess of folk music buried in the muck and the mire...with Michael Gira as wingman. There is a otherworldly feralness to it all, like the discovery of a pagan ceremony in a frigid forest, a Nordic folkloric narrative that tips into horror. The fact the band come from Sweden may have something to do with such naturalistic, stark and terrifying imagery, but the music itself inhabits a darkly pastoral space that inexorably drags you into a story rife with pregnant shadows, Gothic presentiment and macabre fascination. The fact that the duo (Albin Boman and Peter Engqvist) recorded the album in an industrial district outside of Stockholm somehow heightens this hyperreality – as if by recording it in a manmade district of urban unease, it mirrors the pastoral kismet that lies at the aural core of these songs. Waldeinsamkeit (which approximately means alone in the forest) highlights this paganism in song titles alone – ‘Green Man’ being a gargantuan march into the unknown, with a fairytale existence burning in the shadows; ‘The Mare’ a brooding, fragile meander through the undergrowth of reckless regret; ‘The Woods’ enveloping the foreboding, marked out as a Swans-meets-Shearwater deathmarch with the harbinger of doom spelt out by closer ‘You’ll Soon Be Dead’. In fact, this all reminds me in spirit of the duo’s countryman John Ajvide Lindqvist, the seminal horror writer who has managed to shine a distinctive light on many well-trodden speculative genres. In particular his novel Little Star comes to mind, which focuses on the pitch-perfect yet emotionally void Laila, an ethereal babe abandoned in the woods who rises to become a beguiling “monster”. Combine that character with the characteristics that come with the physicality of Dren, the “created” focus of maligned/misunderstood Vincenzo Natali film Splice, and you have what Waldeinsamkeit does to me in a visceral sense. It’s haunting, haggard, sleek, sinister, and quite brilliant.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A Frown Is The Greatest Gift To Give


Now that I’ve dished the psyche dirt on Dreamtime, let’s dive into the sludged-out filth that is new member Fergus Smith’s other band (well, one of them anyway), Frown. You can see where the connection comes from – if Dreamtime’s riffs ratcheted up the tension, dropped a little tone and ingested some Melvins atrocities, we would have The Greatest Gift To Give, Frown’s latest EP. The cover art - what I assume to be a woodcut of a high priestess sitting at the foot of a tree praying, her head cowled by a hooded robe that opens up to show her chest, her candle impaling a skull whilst others lay strewn around her – is also indicative of what is in store. This doom metal is a blast furnace to the face, an underworld chasm of deafening howls, destructive riffs and perforated eardrums. There are moments of respite here though that to me holds added atmosphere – the ruminative close-out of ‘Harpocrates Unborn’ for example, or the almost tribal drums that bring in the thundering ‘Cold Gail That Blows My Lonely Grave’. This track is more of a psych drone number than any before it, whilst closer ‘Offering’ takes the archetypal Black Sabbath notebook and burns it asunder. These guys are all about suffocation, celebrating the Fall, the occult and the bruising effects of heavy metal – but above all else, Frown knows how to rock. Brisbane needs to celebrate these guys more (ask Golden Bats, another local bastion of doom, for how peripheral this genre truly is).

Here is their last EP for a taste...

Merge Into The Underlay, Twerp(s)!


We are always excited about a new Twerps release here on Planet Masala. The news that the Melbourne band have a new EP out called Underlay is monumental – and the fact that it is so compact and realised is a reminder as to why they are much-loved here and overseas. Overlay is the first recorded output with Alex MacFarlane (The Stevens) in tow, and he slots in effortlessly. We also see Jules McFarlane taking a bit more of the vocal duties this time – not as in more in more songs, but in responsibility and strength. 'Conditional Report' and 'Raft' stand as two incredibly strong tracks. But there are other elements to be excited about too…the joviality and jaunty roll of ‘Heavy Hands’, the sleepy drawl of ‘California Clay’, the raucous shambolism of ‘Hypocrite’ – even the weird instrumental title track, which feels like the theme tune to some bizarre ABC children’s program. EPs are ripe for experimentation, but it is also great to have so many feelgood hits in the bunch – as the sunny amble of ‘Consecutive Seasons’ trundles into the sunset, shoulders a little shrugged, a beer hanging loosely at the side, it’s time to flip sides once more. Twerps are becoming a real institution, aren’t they?


The band have also announced their signing to Merge Records, which means their global exposure is about to explode even further. Underlay is available in limited edition 12” vinyl through Chapter Musicget it ASAP.


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Softening The Low Life Feeling Afterhours


LA dude Afterhours has offered a mid-tempo comedown capsule with his Lowlife album (out through - you guessed it - Not Not Fun). It is a timeloop, reminding you of the cerebral highs and cushioning the head-crushing lows. Samples weave in and out of each other, melding together into a narcotic syrup, an amber treacle to trap the ride before it ends the way it probably should. After all, you put that in your body, right? Its an album that is easy to loop back in itself also - a neverending playlist of pharmaceutical solvents for your bruised synapses, caressing your shattered psyche, crooning to your gutted ego. Exultant in the soothing throes of sunrise before retiring into the cocoon of a blackened bedroom, Lowlife is likely to extend your life - at least for another night, anyway.


Lowlife is here.

Dissolving Constructed Symbols Online


This one has been a long time coming too – again, written into the hitherto unfinished fourth instalment of Everybody’s Droning On The Weekend, but seeing as Ill be seeing Christopher Royal King in his “day band” mode tonight as This Will Destroy You play London’s Scala, it’s high time this gets its airtime. Excellently intriguing label Holodeck Records put out Online Architecture earlier this year. The unpacking process has meant I have stumbled over “lost” albums – this is one of them. King’s electronic project Symbol focuses primarily on tape erasure and looped manipulations, a transmogrification from epochal sound systems to a more amorphous entity, evoking the stillness of euphoria and the devastation of a world irrevocably changed – a post-apocalyptic ecstasy where the human limit for emotional capacity is reached and overrun, and all that is left is to sit in the tranquillity of the End and marvel at its wondrous completeness. For Online Architecture is all about finding traction in decay – something that seminal Basinski tract The Disintegration Loops manifested – as King creates pieces using instruments (such as guitar, dulcimer and harmonium) that he systematically frays by processing through a myriad of modular patch-bays and therefore patchworking new, chimeric soundscapes. Some of the tape reels that these songs were recorded to were specifically chosen due to their disintegration levels, thus giving a warm, fragile and tenebrous filter (a couple disintegrated entirely during the final transfer). It’s a stunning contemplation of Man on the precipice of its own devising (much of Online Architecture comes from King’s travails through China and his growing horror and sense of dissipating Self as he witnessed first-hand the country’s yet-to-be-inhabited ghost cities and the overflowing mega-metropolises). Seriously – I cannot think of ‘Lineage’, the album’s closer, without Malick-esque pastiche images of crystalline humanism swell around me, often of men falling from buildings whilst the sun shone through the smallest gaps that the buildings allowed, as if the building could hold no more. It’s a haunting and evocative piece that swells to the point of spiritual implosion, yet also holds a great degree of dexterity and light within its machinations. It’s a fantastic suite of ambient permutations and I'm glad I finally fell into its embrace.


You can purchase Online Architecture here – and if you are a fan of this sort of thing, this is essential.

Melbourne Can Handle The Moonlight Malaise


There is something poetic about the way Melbourne Cans construct their music. It’s probably more the nostalgic quality of their sonic tapestry – the way I'm made to think of lazy afternoons, the birth of my love of The Wedding Present, the warmth of the guitar tones and keys on songs like ‘Boys’… There is a deliberate sense of wistful recognition on debut LP Moonlight Malaise (out through Lost and Lonesome) though, especially the shift in vocal duties from the dulcet croon of Ian Wallace (ex-Pageants – whatever happened to this excellent band??? - and the Edwyn Collins affectations are not missed here!) and Nina Renee. It’s like a sleepier, Merseyside-via-Northcote version of The Cannanes – with a hard crush on the Big O. With all the doo-wop pretensions that are thrown about in this day and age, you cannot get more to-the-bone than ‘Fallen Angels’ – I could feel the tears of my imagined prom date soak through my shoulder-padded suit jacket at my graduation in 1965. The fact that such ruminations come to bear, despite the fact I was born some sixteen years later, belies the power that Melbourne Cans hold in their hands. Plus the urgency that penultimate (and lengthy) track ‘Hot In The Head’ holds is the kind of incessant brooding guitar-solo-heavy slowburner that fires up the cockles in this “old” man’s heart. Melbourne Cans are a square peg/round hole proposition in this day and age – but when geniuses like Lehmann B Smith make a living out of crafting perfect melodies that happily sit far outside the common scene denominators, why shouldn’t these guys too? 


You can grab Moonlight Malaise here.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Sunk Deep In Blackhoods


Not Not Fun often are the barometer for what drone artists are coming into acute focus of their powers, and Blackhoods’ Sunk record/cassette (SOLD OUT) is one to take notice of. Of course this isn’t acute drone – there are enough lysergic beats underscoring tracks like ‘Doomhound’ that tip Blackhoods into a more demented dub realm – but the undulating guitar and effects that warble in and out of focus, scratched and scuffed beyond repair, a scorched sojourn into the darkest recesses, allows this to climb to the upper echelons of current releases of its ilk. ‘Sunk Bone’ and ‘Dead Calm’ are muted bookends to the leviathan that is ‘Doomhound’, with the occasional minimal note breaking the surface – the former heralding the doom that is about to unfold, whilst the latter smooths out, a grey placation. ‘Constant Wrestle’ and ‘Adriana’ are different beasts, dipping into the reservoirs of the subconscious - the former plumbing the depths of subliminal groove with slight unease percolating throughout (does anyone hear the bastard cousin of a Stone Roses riff here?), whilst the latter offers further suppression, an undulating mantra of industrial malaise. (And if you can give me more information on these guys, that'd be GREATLY appreciated!).



Grab Sunk in MP3 form here.

Taken By The Serpent’s Tongue


Dreamtime are busy – well busier than usual. Despite keeping live appearances to more of a minimum in 2014, the now-quartet (Fergus Smith from Frown (more on them later) has joined to add more droned heft) had their two sold-out LPs Dreamtime and Sun re-released on local label Conquest Of Noise, all set with new artwork and a wider-reaching push to reach those global psyche carpal tunnels. They have music in store for their third album, and we gratefully get a taste in terms of ‘Serpent’s Tongue’. It’s a more open, cleaner sound in some ways, but guitarist Zac Anderson’s vocal delivery is flayed bare with little reverb to hide the spit and rolled-back eyes lent to the delivery. This therefore lends a more blasted, unhinged aspect to an already monumental aesthetic that Anderson, Cat Maddin (bass/vocals) and Tara Wardrop (drums) have painstakingly developed over the years. It’s always a pulsating experience seeing these guys weave their dense sonic mantras, but with ‘Serpent’s Tongue’ it seems that atmosphere is more likely to implode in a calamitous thrash here.


You can get your hands on ‘Serpent’s Tongue’ here. Added bonus are two improvisational pieces Dreamtime have done on stage this year. The one at Shedstock in particular is a mind-melter.

Get The Shovels Out And DIG


I have been a big fan of San Francisco native Michael Beach for some time. He came floating into my sonic peripherals with his solo fare; firstly his A Horse 7" through Twin Lakes Records back in 2011, but most prominently when he released Golden Theft, one of my favourite albums of 2013. I even had the privilege of putting him on a show at the Beetle Bar in Brisbane back in November (with a stellar line-up of Soda Eaves, Tiny Migrants and Tape/Off – but due to torrential rain it was a poorly attended show, despite it being one of my favourite of the year also). He was joined with a backing band, bassist Adam Camilleri and drummer Peter Warden. But they aren’t really just a backing band – the trio form Shovels, and their debut LP (out through Homeless Records) is one of apocryphal dirges and imploding delights.


There are moments throughout Shovels where I felt I was listening to one of Australia’s truly underrated rock bands, Turnpike. Whilst nowhere near as intricately frenetic, there is an incessant gnarled tension throughout these tracks, such as opener 'MB Jacket' or 'Multiple Farrow', from the deathmarch basslines and cathartic drums to Beach’s impassioned howls and sharp guitar stabs and swathes. The monolithic ‘Clyde’ stands stark here, just over five minutes of drowning militaristic rancour; as Beach shouts ‘the leader of the FBI’ there is a nascent aura pervading, as if the anger is on the cusp of being superseded by impotent exasperation. But the muscularity remains, and therein lies one of the secret ingredients that so many bands forget – you can strut and bluster all you want, you can turn things up as loud as they will go, but if you don’t wield your strengths at the right time, with tempered aggression, with knowledge of when to strike and when to recede into the shadows, you are nothing but a cardboard cutout. Even the sparse, foreboding languidity of ‘Expire’ holds more strength in its aural tendrils than most bombastic offerings. There is nothing impotent about Shovels – contrary, this album digs mass graves for us all to gratefully slumber in, led by Pied Pipers of angularity.


Grab Shovels here – it’s a necessity.